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ST. PAUL STARTLES OKKODO

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By Patrick Lujan

St. Paul’s Brian Tsujii tries to block a layup by Okkodo’s Joseph Ruppen . (photo by Jesse Castro)

St. Paul’s Brian Tsujii tries to block a layup by Okkodo’s Joseph Ruppen . (photo by Jesse Castro)

“There’s never a shot he didn’t like,” St. Paul assistant coach Stu Schaeffer said about sophomore star Sheik Carino.

Despite shooting 2-13 in the first three quarters, Carino willed his team to victory in the fourth quarter 64-60 and just about sealed first place in the Taga Division in a huge game against the Okkodo Bulldogs Saturday night at St. Paul.

A win by the Bulldogs would’ve clinched the division title for Okkodo, and they were on their way as they led by as much as 13 points late in the third quarter and still held a double-digit lead heading into the final quarter.

That’s when Carino took his young team on his shoulders and carried them to a remarkable comeback win.

After struggling through a 0-8 shooting in the third quarter alone, Carino stepped up on both sides of the ball in the final quarter and there was nothing the Bulldogs could do to stop him.

“We had to come back because we were down almost the whole game,” Carino said. “I had to step it up, because throughout the whole game, I had bad shooting percentage.”

The largest deficit the Warriors faced was 47-34 with under three minutes to go in the third when the red-hot Aaron Blaz nailed his sixth 3-pointer of the game, leaving little doubt that the Bulldogs were well on their way to winning the division.

That’s when St. Paul changed up their defensive strategy and the momentum started to shift.

Okkodo guard Aaron Blaz was burning the net from the outside with six 3-pointers, but the Warriors came back in a big way. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Okkodo guard Aaron Blaz was burning the net from the outside with six 3-pointers, but the Warriors came back in a big way. (photo by Jesse Castro)

“We switched our defense, more to a man-press defense, which threw them off,” Warriors head coach Paul Pineda said.

The stifling defense, led by Carino, forced nine Okkodo turnovers in the final period as the lead slowly started to disappear.

“Our program at St. Paul is that we play defense. When we pulled off that half-court trap, it helped us in a big way,” Carino added.

Midway through the quarter, the lead shrunk to three on a short jumper by Brian Tsujii.

A steal and a coast-to-coast layup by Carino brought it to 58-57 with 1:50 remaining as the Warriors home crowd was roaring.

Carino finally broke the ice – and a 60-60 tie – with another huge steal and layup with under a minute to go.

“My team showed me a lot of heart. We’ve been battling a lot of injuries,” Pineda said.

St. Paul was coming off a loss in the finals of the Div II Far East Tournament and dropped their first two games back on Guam, so it was a huge win to say the least.

The Warriors had an emotional lift when their lone senior, point guard Tito Canovas, played in a limited role while still suffering from a meniscus injury.

“He gutted it out,” Pineda said about his senior. “Just having him on the court gave a good presence.”

Still nursing an injury, senior Tito Canovas provided some leadership on the coart in the Warriors big win. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Still nursing an injury, senior Tito Canovas provided some leadership on the coart in the Warriors big win. (photo by Jesse Castro)

“Tito is our leader,” Carino added. “I look up to him because he’s been leading us the whole season. He’s our floor general.”

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs let a great opportunity slip away. Senior guard Blaz was on fire from the outside, hitting five of his first seven shots from downtown. And when he wasn’t firing away, he was dropping dimes – six of his eight assists came in the second quarter.

Blaz finished with a game-high 22 points while Joseph Ruppen added 19 points and eight rebounds.

St. Paul big man John San Andres had a solid game with 20 points and 10 boards on 8-10 shooting.

Both teams wrap up their season Tuesday night. St. Paul needs to beat the JFK Islanders or the Bulldogs to lose to the St. John’s Knights for the Warriors to win the division outright. Okkodo needs to beat the Knights and JFK to upset St. Paul in order for it to win the division.

Quarterfinals are set for next Saturday.

Other games

St. John’s 76, Harvest 50

JFK 63, Sanchez 47

JV

Okkodo 68, St. Paul 34

St. John’s 47, Harvest 31

JFK 52, Sanchez 37

 

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

http://www.akguam.com/ou/tamuning-scion/

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Bulldogs Joseh Ruppen and a good all-around game with 19 points and eight rebounds. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Bulldogs Joseh Ruppen and a good all-around game with 19 points and eight rebounds. (photo by Jesse Castro)

sldkfs (photo by Jesse Castro)

sldkfs (photo by Jesse Castro)

Both teams huddle in a 30-second timeout in the first half. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Both teams huddle in a 30-second timeout in the first half. (photo by Jesse Castro)

sdfkjl (photo by Jesse Castro)

Brian Tsujii follows through on his form while tightly defended. (photo by Jesse Castro)

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